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That word - the state

+1 vote
I'm finding it very hard to imagine a sociable species without a state. Lenins 'state and revolution' "state arose out of class antagonisms" seems like a reactionary statement to me, as the state could exist without class divisions.

Maletesta's 'Anarchy' comes closer to what I see the state as "anarchist state is the only social state based on the principle of solidarity" but I'm constantly told that the 'state' is and always will be oppressive.

I see the state as being a set of physical process that make our individual liberty mutual, it is below us and under the control of all that make it up - impossible to remove from a sociable, tool making, species. Currently it is stolen, by force, by an inbred minority at the top, and that as an "anarchist" I am dedicated to taking it back.

My question is that from my view above, could I still call my views anarchistic?
asked Aug 3, 2013 by daithi (210 points)
i see the state as an institution that defines a set of relationships (social, political, economic, etc), and codifies many of those relationships into "law". it is therefore impossible for me to imagine a state that is not, by definition, both oppressive and class-based. that may not be ALL it is, but...

oppressive: the creation and enforcement of law
class-based: the existence of anyone authorized to act on behalf of the state

(both of the above have many more examples, just giving a quick-n-dirty)

you said: "I'm finding it very hard to imagine a sociable species without a state."

if you truly mean any species, you don't have to look very far to find social non-human animals that do not display any evidence of a state-like institution. which is not to say there is no hierarchy, just that there is no state.

but more to the point: humans existed in small tribes/bands/whatev for a long, long time before the rise of the state and related institutions. they were very social animals, and they existed without a state.

you also said: "it is below us and under the control of all that make it up"

wow. do you seriously believe that?

the word "state" can be used to describe a transitory condition of being as opposed to a massive, rigid institution. but the question clearly appears to be referring to the latter.
I am going to have to think about this but currently, and probably wrongly, I don't think that anything has to be written into law - or that it should never be either. Instead of seeing the state as an institution I see it as a category of institutions. Within this pov I also group law's and communal rules as elements of the state - yes it could be that one is written and one is not, but I can see both as being possible in a situation of non-oppressivness - as their could still be communal ownership of the rule/law. Without hegemony then a community could decide to write something into law, for whatever reason, but they could also undo it, same as with a social rule. With hegemony, as in centralized power, then this is going to cause class segregation and thus a top class that manipulates those "written laws". I'm going to have to stew on this, the idea that by having written laws makes our state (category of institutions/institution of relationships) become hegemonic - because naturally law enforcement & class system etc would be created.

currently looking for similar results in other species, as this would be a huge proof of the theory and using Kropotkins Mutual Aid as my main resource. I'm on my 2nd reading of 1st chapter (mutual aid in animals) and so far my results point to ants, bee's etc as tool/worker sociable species but they all seem to coincide with a class system (queen/worker) and I can't relate our species with any form of segregation. In these situations (bees/ants) I see a class system working the functions of the state, but when I come back to our species I see the state as being possible without the class system. Most probably because of the link between intellegence and sociability in our own species compared to insects. Chimpanzes also make tools, have laws that aren't written but are owned by the group. I need a lot more research into this, but am doing thought experiments on it.

An example of my current view: Within a federation of canton/soviet communes, the person delegated for "intercommunal trade relations", or some other task, is a worker within our state as he is dealing with a physical process that helps to make our communal liberty mutual (the liberty to food would suit this example), but the state exists, the state workers exist, the only difference is the removal of hegemony, oppression and slavery. In the federal canton/soviet scenario we would own the state and we would govern it, but it would still exist.

major typo: I don't see the current situation under or below us, i'm completely ignorant and uneducated but not blind or dumb ;) I meant to say that in its natural form the state (as in category of physical process's) it lies under and below us.

And in my rss this morning was this article, very close to the topic: http://dingpolitik.wordpress.com/2013/08/06/anarchism-as-institution/

1 Answer

+1 vote
Best answer
what do you call the "inbred minority at the top"? what else are you against?
theoretically you are against the same things i am, but you're calling it something different. all that might mean in practice is that it is very difficult for us to have a conversation.
but it could mean that there is more fundamental disagreement that is hidden by the difference in words.

for example, @-caps could argue that the only difference between them and real anarchists is that what we call capitalism, they call corporatism. but the more significant difference seems to be the level of understanding they're operating on. ie, their examples about why they're right are almost always of individual to individual, vs systems and how numbers of people and institutions operate. i think that way of thinking can be a useful challenge to anarchists, but it is not anarchist.

also, i don't know malatesta, but it sounds to me from that quotation that he's talking about a state as a way of being, a condition, rather than necessarily as an institution.
answered Aug 3, 2013 by dot (52,030 points)
yeh I do express far too much emotion when I write. With 'inbred minority' I'm referring to monarch/stable classes. Words play too much an important role when trying to communicate, my apologies.

Your take on malatesta is exactly my question - as a condition rather than an institution. My conclusion is that the 'state' will always be there, that this is understood naturally by the species and that to shout 'smash the state' is counterproductive and confusing to the average person. I've been told that my views are @-caps, even that I am @-cap. Your words describe my questions perfectly... "under anarchism can the state be a condition rather than an institution"
no, sorry. that's not what i meant.
"state" in english can mean a condition, or an institution (or combination of institutions). like, i am in a state of confusion, vs. i am against the state. hence why people can say, " a state of anarchy", ie the *condition* of anarchy, not the institution of anarchy (anarchy and institutions being antithetical, although probably not completely mutually exclusive).
i am not saying you're anything, including an @cap, just using them as an example.
and i understood what you meant by "inbred minority" (and don't think you're expressing "too much emotion"). my point is that you could call the state something similar. depending on how broadly one defines either word. so it doesn't clarify much. neither does "monarchy/stable classes".
put another way, what do you gain from defining state the way you do? what is it that you are emphasizing by using the word that way? what do you lose with that definition? when people choose to use words differently from the people they're trying to communicate with, it's helpful to have clarity about why the word choice is important.  

my sense is that understanding the state as a series of interlocking parts/institutions, some of which can exist on their own, but all of which are stronger together, is important for a coherent, interesting anarchist thought/practice. so, the state is helped by the minority part, and the stability part, and the jargon part, and the flexibility/democratic part, and the capitalist part, etc.
i am less concerned, in practice, with what someone calls it, or whether someone thinks it will always be there, and more concerned with whether the person understands how pervasive it is, and all the different ways it works in our lives that must be.... well, smashed, for lack of a better word.
also, how exactly would the state exist without class divisions?
understand the conditional state now, cheers. I see centeralised power as the issue that cause class divisions, and is the reason the state is so pervasive. I find it hard to see any relationship between our state and class divisions but see strong relationships between ruling minorities (broken democracies included) and class divisions. The reason for this is my definition of the state as a 'category of physical systems that make our liberty communally mutual'. Such as liberty to have porridge and live in a city, liberty to health etc - but not the liberty to take away someone elses. The latter can only happen by force - which is what happens when minority power control our state (category). What we have is the minority (imo) controlling our state by violence and force for their own benefit, and it is having this, ruling, minority that is the problem and the issue. And the average joe, or very high majority of people I've asked, completely agree with me. The 'educated' left seem (to me) to confuse minority power with our state.

Its from this point of view (of the state as a category of physical process's) that I say currently 'we have order where there should be anarchy and anarchy where there should be order' (in relation to our production anyways). From what I have read so far, and think atm, it seems its only without rule or gov that our state (category) will be under our communal control, make our liberty communal, thus not invasive and below us (not above). and also that its only natural for a tool making species to have a state.
... also on the topic, if anybody reads this far they must be interested lol, just came across this http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/Aragorn___Nihilism__Anarchy__and_the_21st_century.html which I think is the counter agrument to what I'm saying